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Thread: Getting back into 4x5 -- Need some Suggestions

  1. #11

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    Re: Getting back into 4x5 -- Need some Suggestions

    Different styles of cameras have different strengths and were designed for different purposes.

    Handheld 4x5? Get a press camera with rangefinder.
    Interior architecture with ultra-wide lenses? Get a full-featured monorail with precision movements and interchangeable bellows.
    Hiking/backpacking in rough terrain? Get a lightweight wooden folder and compact lenses.

    You get the idea. Before you decide which camera you want, really think about how you want to use it. That will guide your decision.

    "Hybrid" styles like the Master Technika or the other metal folders (and some full-featured wooden cameras) try to hit the middle ground between the flexibility and precision of a top-notch monorail and the field camera. The trade-offs are weight, flexibility, speed of operation; heavier than field cameras, less flexible than a monorail, slower than both. Sometimes these fit the bill just fine. I'd never carry one in the field, though...

    FWIW, my Wista DXs fold with smaller lenses inside. I can even get the 240mm f/9 Fujinon A squeezed in on the old-style ones.

    Most cameras will work in most situations. However, if you have any "special needs," you need to consider them in your choice.
    Ask yourself if you need:

    A really long bellows for lenses 300mm and up (a common 12" bellows will accommodate up to 240mm lenses well, even a 300mm on a top-hat board; longer than that and you need a telephoto lens or a much longer bellows).

    Capacity for really wide lenses coupled with lots of movements (think interior architecture, etc.). A wide-angle bellows or interchangeable (or universal-style) bellows are really, really nice if you need lots of movement capability with lenses 90mm and shorter.

    Lots of movements or not, and just what movements you consider essential (e.g., for me, I would never own a camera without some shift capability, plus I need front rise and swings/tilts of some kind on both standards). Also, be aware that most folding cameras come with base tilts only. If you really want/need axis tilts (I don't) look for models that have that as a feature.

    A Graflok back for accessories. If so, then be sure the camera you get has one (many wooden folders don't).

    A really lightweight camera. If so, you will need to compromise on features a bit. If you plan on just unpacking things from your car and carrying your equipment just a few feet to the shoot, then weight isn't an issue, so go for the full-featured models and bigger lenses. If you need the lightest possible kit, wooden and compact is the way to go along with compact lenses in the non-extreme focal lengths.

    New, used, expensive, cheap, etc.

    Finally, ask yourself which compromises you are willing to make. Every camera involves a compromise of some kind.

    Best of luck and welcome back to the film world,

    Doremus

  2. #12
    dbla's Avatar
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    Re: Getting back into 4x5 -- Need some Suggestions

    This has been helpful. I wound up finding a nice wooden field camera locally with a lens so I grabbed that. Looking forward to shooting again soon!!

  3. #13

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    Re: Getting back into 4x5 -- Need some Suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by dbla View Post
    Budget wise I’m looking at roughly 2k or less on a setup. “Setup” being camera, lens, holders, etc….

    [EDIT: I posted this without seeing the post just above . May as well leave it in case someone finds it useful in the future.]

    Reading your first post and the above, you might consider an Arca-Swiss Discovery. Arca-Swiss sold the Discovery as an entry to its F-Line at a significant discount. I believe that the purpose of the discount, which was substantial, was to attract college photography and art students to the brand.

    The camera is completely modular. I purchased one myself and over time acquired further components which enable me to set up the camera for both 4x5 and 8x10. I now have a 700mm bellows, with sufficient rail, in addition to the original Discovery bellows and rail. My longest lens is a 600mm Fujinon C. With the right components, the Discovery can also be set up for 6x9 and 5x7.

    It is light and extremely easy to carry/transport. Stock, it comes with a 300mm rail. In Discovery mode, I just carry it by my side with one hand holding the centre of the rail and the standards hanging down. My widest lens is 120mm, but my understanding is that the Discovery bellows will take a 90mm. The main difference between the Discovery and the standard F-Line is that the front standard focus is not geared. It works by friction. Arca-Swiss U.S. representative Rod Kuklas wrote this detailed paragraph on the differences between the Discovery and the standard F-Line in 2018:

    "The Discovery was made into late 1990's. It is recognizable by it soft yellow color knobs. The main difference to it from other F-line siblings, is the lack of geared focus on the front standard, and knob locks for lateral shift on both standards. It is a 171 series camera with basic carriers sporting swing and base tilt, as well as lateral shift and rise/fall, on both front and rear standards."

    The friction focus works fine unless you need to make very fine adjustments. I eventually upgraded to geared focus, but that's because I started using macro lenses. Kuklak's statement that the Discovery is a 171 series camera refers to the fact that Arca-Swiss later moved from 171mm lens boards to 141mm boards. The 171mm boards are readily available.

  4. #14

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    Re: Getting back into 4x5 -- Need some Suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    "Hybrid" styles like the Master Technika or the other metal folders (and some full-featured wooden cameras) try to hit the middle ground between the flexibility and precision of a top-notch monorail and the field camera. The trade-offs are weight, flexibility, speed of operation; heavier than field cameras, less flexible than a monorail, slower than both. Sometimes these fit the bill just fine. I'd never carry one in the field, though...
    I'm surprised you find the Technika and similar cameras slower than a wooden field camera. I've found exactly the opposite. I've found that I can setup my Technika with a lens pre-focused to infinity in about 2 minutes, less if it is a small lens that I leave installed.

    Also, to the OP, I'll throw out a quick comment that while generalizations of "monorail" vs. "wooden field camera" vs. "techical camera" vs. "press camera" are useful, remember that specific cameras in each of those groups may upend those generalizations. For instance the general idea that monorails are large, heavy, and don't fold up well for transport, can be true, but the Technikardan 45 (just as an example) is small, of moderate weight, and folds up quite compact. Another example--many wooden folders are lighter than metal technical cameras, but my first large format camera--a Shen Hao HZX45--was a wooden folder, and while I didn't actually weigh it, holding it in one hand and the technika in the other, they basically feel identical.

  5. #15

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    Re: Getting back into 4x5 -- Need some Suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by dbla View Post
    This has been helpful. I wound up finding a nice wooden field camera locally with a lens so I grabbed that. Looking forward to shooting again soon!!
    Wonderful news, when you have been using it for some time, please get back and tell us about it.

    Mick.

  6. #16
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Getting back into 4x5 -- Need some Suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by dbla View Post
    This has been helpful. I wound up finding a nice wooden field camera locally with a lens so I grabbed that. Looking forward to shooting again soon!!
    Excellent! The best camera is one you can get started with! Have fun!
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  7. #17

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    Re: Getting back into 4x5 -- Need some Suggestions

    abruzzi,

    Of course, I was generalizing broadly just for the sake of simplification and overview. The Technika is indeed one of the faster cameras to set up. However, I can get my Wista DX set up and be viewing an image in significantly less than two minutes if I need to; that's including setting up the tripod and digging the camera out of the bag. If I have to change the lens that's mounted on it, then a bit longer. The Technika does have the advantage of infinity stops though, so let's call it a draw Set up time is less of an issue with LF anyway.

    And you're right about the heavy wooden folders too. I have a Zone VI that never gets carried far from the car. I keep it around because I can use my 450mm lens with it, but at 6+ pounds, it is twice as heavy (not to mention bulkier) than my lighter wooden folders.

    We can subdivide the camera categories ad nauseum; each individual model has its differences from other cameras, but I think your 'generalizations of "monorail" vs. "wooden field camera" vs. "technical camera" vs. "press camera" ' categorization has merit.

    @OP,

    Have fun with your new acquisition! The best way to find out what features you really need is to spend time photographing.

    Best,

    Doremus

  8. #18

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    Re: Getting back into 4x5 -- Need some Suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    Of course, I was generalizing broadly just for the sake of simplification and overview. The Technika is indeed one of the faster cameras to set up. However, I can get my Wista DX set up and be viewing an image in significantly less than two minutes if I need to; that's including setting up the tripod and digging the camera out of the bag. If I have to change the lens that's mounted on it, then a bit longer. The Technika does have the advantage of infinity stops though, so let's call it a draw Set up time is less of an issue with LF anyway.
    Fair enough. I had a bit of a less than ideal experience with my Shen Hao which has made me less trusting of wooden field cameras. Someone should loan me a /good/ wooden camera to reset my expectations on wood. For me, the Shen Hao was slow, and never felt rigid. Everytime I inserted the film holder (or numerous other actions), something moved and the film holder had to be removed so I could reset it. When I upgraded to a Master Technika, the rigidity was what sold me on it. Locked down things stayed locked down. At the moment though, I mostly use the Technikardan which is definitly a slower camera, but using it makes me very happy.

  9. #19
    dbla's Avatar
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    Re: Getting back into 4x5 -- Need some Suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Fagan View Post
    Wonderful news, when you have been using it for some time, please get back and tell us about it.

    Mick.
    Shot a couple of sheets last night here ya go:




  10. #20

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    Re: Getting back into 4x5 -- Need some Suggestions

    looks like you are back to incredible-ness

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